Kirsti, Gary F., and Clark,
Meanings are contextual. - Do we agree in that?
Yes. Peirce said many times in many ways that any meaningful
concept must show its passport at the gates of perception
and action. That is a major part of its context.
Letters to lady Welby need to be interpreted and evaluated on the
basis to whom they were addressed to. Lady Welby was highly interested
in sign classifications.
The person who is addressed is also part of the context, and I agree
that would influence the topics Peirce considered.
His work in writing and editing definitions would have had a strong
influence on "meaning", since that is the primary goal for dictionary
definitions. Note what he wrote to B. E. Smith, the editor of the
"The task of classifying all the words of language, or what's the same
thing, all the ideas that seek expression, is the most stupendous of
logical tasks. Anybody but the most accomplished logician must break
down in it utterly; and even for the strongest man, it is the severest
possible tax on the logical equipment and faculty."
That comment indicates his high regard for his work on lexicography.
Almost all of Peirce’s work on minute classification of sign types
was done in the period 1903-1908, and his work on almost everything
got set aside after that, because his health was deteriorating.
Peirce may have used the letter writing to clarify his thoughts,
but he appears to have been thinking on the issues for some time.
I agree with both of those comments. Peirce did not have the time
and energy to prepare an article for publication. A letter was more
likely to get attention for his ideas than a few pages in a notebook.
Of all his correspondents, Lady Welby was the most likely to appreciate
and circulate his letter about signs.
Given his health at the time, the fact that he made the effort to write
a long letter shows that he considered the subject matter important.
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